Like a walk in the park
> The Theam sisters go the extra mile so you’ll have your best foot forward
I Ttakes one slip into Yoke & Theam’s sandals to understand why they became an instant hit when the brand launched a year ago. The shoe label has managed to strike a balance between style and comfort, a dilemma that fashion-conscious consumers still struggle with despite vast selections of footwear across the market.
Sisters behind the brand Yoke Git (aka Yokie) and Yoke Sin stayed true to their philosophy in the third collection for Autumn 2016. To boost snugness, the Theam sisters laid an extra soft micro-fibre lining and spongy foot-bed upon durable rubber sole, topping it off with a leather upper and monogram details for a luxurious finish. As usual, both their strap designs and chunky heels are trendy and loved.
“Our customers like the moderate 2.5inch heels. They like to have a bit of height, and also be able to walk all day. Some people even wear the sandals for parties,” quipped Yokie, who’s the youngest of four sisters.
Boasting 11 variations in four designs, Yoke & Theam’s Autumn 2016 collection is available on www.yokentheam.com and its stockists from November.
First off, tell us about your Autumn 2016 collection. What’s new? Yokie (YK): You’ll see similar silhouettes because we’re still inspired by our past collections. Instead of releasing a new design, we want to reinforce what worked well. To add something different, we played with the fabrication and materials.
We kept the sporty chic element with the use of perforated sponge for our Ivy sandals. We got the idea of incorporating a heel tab (aka pull strap) from sneakers, so the sandal looks sporty and cushions the heel. Yoke Sin (YS): We added a lot of leather into this range. Most of them (80%) is leather. YK: Another element we threw in is the initials because we want to reinforce our brand identity and heritage. So you see that silk-screened and embossed on the back and front straps.
How do you fuse your individual tastes into the label? YS: We enjoy travelling and music. That’s a common area we share and it brings a lot of creativity into our designs. YK: We have shared interests in art, fashion, vintage stuff and film. To design a collection together is not really hard and of course we do have different opinions sometimes but the longer we work, the more we feel the brand and know what’s best for it. That’s a priority for us.
In retrospect, what was the most challenging part of establishing your own shoe brand? YK: Production, because the shoes we were looking at were not what the factory was already doing. So it took time for production to be smooth. Another challenge we faced is multiracial fitting – different race groups have different feet shapes. YS: For example, Malay individuals have thicker arches, while Chinese individuals have longer feet. YK: The challenge is to make shoes that are beautiful yet wearable. Some shoes are really comfortable to wear, but their silhouette and lines are not appealing. We want an appealing outline and correct fitting. We had different people try our shoes to make sure they fit everyone. If it’s not right, we’d change and adjust.
Would Yoke & Theam branch out into men’s or unisex shoes? YK: We’ve been getting a lot of requests to
come up with a men’s collection. It shouldn’t be a problem – we’ll do a small capsule, with four styles perhaps. YS: Like Yokie said before, we want to create a genderless concept. We don’t want to limit women to a specific image – a woman can be masculine yet feminine. They go through different phases and challenges every day. YK: Nowadays you see men wearing heels! They’re not only for women, likewise chunky sandals are no longer just for men.
What’s in store for Yoke & Theam in 2017? YK: One of our ambitions is to expand our brand overseas, so we need to make sure that our shoes have an international appeal. If we want to export, we have to take part in trade shows because there’s where the buyers are. We have a Singaporean stockist now, and we’ve had customers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines and Indonesia buying through Zalora, but we’d probably join one or two shows next year. YS: We don’t want to limit ourselves to sandals. We’re in the process of diversifying our category of shoes including flats and heels. We’re still new and learning, nonetheless we want it to be perfect when it’s time to present it.
The Theam sisters run the brand hands-on, from designing and marketing to overseeing production.
Yoke & Theam’s Autumn 2016 collection boasts 11 variations in four designs.